The team at Power Pest Control has recently noticed a big increase in the number of calls we get about fire/red ants across Ontario, Canada.
For at least the last 10 years, the European Fire Ant (or Myrmica rubra) has been spreading across York Region and the GTA.
In Toronto (ON), they’re particularly common in public parklands like the Islands, Cherry Beach, and the Don Valley trail. But in York Region, they are taking over backyards with a vengeance.
While not as dangerous as their South American cousins, the European Fire Ant still packs a sting that’s comparable to a bee or a wasp. Their bites are painful and will leave a red mark up to 4 inches in diameter.
They are notoriously aggressive, going after anything or anyone that strays into their territory. Simply getting too close to their nest is enough to provoke them to attack, making them considerably more of a nuisance than native carpenter and pavement ants.
If you’re worried about them taking over your backyard, you can reduce your risk of infestation by following these three tips.
1. Remove Yard Waste
Whereas other species make their colonies in typical mounds, the Myrmica rubra nests in the soil around tree roots, beneath logs and rocks, and around decaying material.
One way to make your yard less appealing to these pests is to keep it clear of fallen or pruned tree branches, pulled up weeds, leaves, and other natural waste.
They provide a great place for fire ants to thrive – and when they find somewhere to nest, they take over. A single-queen colony can have a population as high as 150,000, reaching upward of 300,000 when multiple queens are present.
This species thrives around water and its spread through Ontario has largely been along the shores of the Great Lakes.
You can make your backyard less hospitable by cutting back on your sprinkler usage in addition to creating greater sun exposure. Cut down tall grasses and prune back your tree canopy to dry out the area.
2. Inspect Landscaping Installations
Fire ants are spread most of often through transplanted shrubs and trees since they prefer to nest around these roots.
Be sure to inspect any nursery-bought plants at the roots for these insects before you install them on your property. They can also be found in wood chips, potted soil, and compost – all of which deserve a close look before you use them.
3. Soaking Nests
The most effective way to eliminate a nest in your backyard is by soaking it twice or three times annually with a permethrin mixture.
Permethrin is a common active ingredient in pesticides with a low toxicity for people and mammals. It’s a synthetic version of a chemical naturally found in chrysanthemum flowers, first used by 19th-century soldiers to control fleas on themselves.
While you can buy over-the-counter versions of the solution, at Power Pest Control we use a much more concentrated version of it.
We also know the value of inspection: whatever pest we encounter, the Power Pest golden rule is to always find the nest.
The soil around fire ant nests needs to be soaked deep down, two or three times a year – every year. We recommend calling an expert Toronto ant control company like Power Pest Control to locate the nests and make sure that they’re thoroughly soaked.
Only repeated annual treatment can stop the spread of colonies back onto your property – they advance at a dizzying pace of 50-100 feet every year.